Ichiko stops Teddy and Momou from soiling Momiji and she escapes out the window with her. Ranmaru catches them in midair, and they hitch a ride with Bobby to get away. Teddy and Momou are in hot pursuit, but Ranmaru takes on Momou. Using Bobby’s “Jazz Hyper” charm, Ichiko takes on Teddy, but gets knocked out. Keita looms over her when she awakes, and she asks him a “hypothetical” question about Momoji that she already knows the answer to, she races back to Momiji, catching her as she’s falling from the bridge, then dropping her in a passing garbage barge. She returns to her normal, abrasive self.
Well now, that was a pleasant surprise: a finale that tied everything up neatly and entertainingly, completed Sakura Ichiko’s arc, and providing plenty of high-stakes action and more kinetic comedy. The episode juxtaposes scenes of motion and stillness (with appropriate changes in tone) and gives the whole cast something to do – even Nadeshiko has a (real) cameo. Ranmaru and Momou’s duel is particularly badass, with all the requisite pre-battle banter one would expect of a shounen anime. But one reason this episode worked is that its resolution wasn’t as simple as Ichiko’s original goal of saving Momiji.
At the episode’s beginning, Ichiko didn’t want Momiji to change back because “things were easier this way”, by the end, and with prodding by both Teddy and Keita, she decides to not allow Momiji sacrifice her godhood. But she claims, as always, to be doing it for herself – as friendly and lovable as Momiji-chan was, Ichiko knew deep down it wasn’t right, sparring with the insulting foul-mouthed Binbougami-ga was simply more entertaining. We’d also say that Momiji’s mission was successful: Ichiko’s gone from a lonely, bitchy luck-vacuum to someone with friends she cares about and shares her fortune.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
After being bathed by Ichiko and Ranmaru, Momiji has lost her powers and become a regular human, who begins to be noticed by everyone around her. This irks Ichiko, who still suspects treachery. Her suspicions go too far when she makes Momiji cry and run away. Ichiko catches her and apologizes. Life continues on with normal Momiji, until Teddy gets thrown into a garbage truck and returns to his normal twisted self. Teddy and Moumou then plot to make Momiji dirty so her God powers return.
After eleven episodes of being annoyed, pestered, poked and prodded by the God of Misfortune, this week Ichiko comes to grips with a prospect heretofore unthinkable: a kind, pleasant Binboda Momiji who has no desire to bother her at all; on the contrary, only wants to be her friend and to be happy. We don’t blame Ichiko for being skeptical…initially. Callously throwing dinner Momiji lovingly made back in her face was a bit too mean, but we did like how the art style turned to Death Note mode, with Ichiko as the ever-skeptical L and Momiji as the outwardly affable Yagami Light.
Of course, that’s a great anime being parodied by a just-okay anime for not much reason. But for what it’s worth, we enjoyed the nice Momiji, while she lasted, and to its credit, the episode didn’t end with “everything back to the way it was”; a revitalized Momiji in trickster mode getting right back to making Ichiko’s life a living hell. Instead, it cuts to the credits with Momiji willingly facing her fate, which is kind of sad. Ichiko was so busy suspecting a scheme, she didn’t stop to appreciate what a nice person and potential friend the powerless Binboda Momiji was.
Rating: 6 (Good)
Ichiko takes in an abandoned kitten and names it Fluffy, but she dwells on Momoji’s warning about her hurting those close to her. Ibuki, the toilet god appears, but when he mentions misfortune, she flushes him out of hand. The next day Momijij kidnaps her cat, which she originally planted. Ichiko summons her demon friends, but Momiji uses a “Dayson” to vacuum them up, along with a good amount of her fortune. The gym they met in catches fire. Ibuki arrives to save Fluffy, but accidentally turns her into a Beckoning Cat god which leads Ichiko to safety. Ibuki gives Momiji a necklace with a “keystone” which will prevent her from draining others’ fortune.
This entire episode is an over-complicated scheme by Momiji to slap that keystone on Ichiko. As Poop-god (we’ve seen a lot of poop lately, innit?) Ibuki points out, she could have just asked her if she’d put it on. As the audience, we know that Ichiko is worried about how all the people she’s getting closer to will be affected by her natural ability to sap their fortune. Of course, if she’d simply asked her nicely, without any insults or pretense, she probably would have agreed, and we’d have no episode. (Though we’ll note this episode is heavily-padded by omake.)
Instead, Momiji takes the long road: planting a cat, hiring Ibuki to go in the house and introduce himself; kidnapping the cat; challenging Ichiko to a duel; foilng her with her latest gadget (which resembles a real Dyson); etc. When Ichiko is trapped in a burning gym, Momiji realizes she may have gone too far, and fortune ends up finding Ichiko in the form of a mistake by Ibuki that turns Fluffy into a friggin’ god. In any case, Ichiko will no longer be draining anyone’s fortune – which seems to go a long way towards Momiji accomplishing her mission of neutralizing that threat.
Rating: 5 (Average)
In the first half, Ichiko and Momiji have a duel in doubles tennis. Their respective male partners – the prince-like Adenokouji Shion and the gorilla-like Gorihara, are quickly taken out of the game of increasing magic and firepower wielded by the girls. The match ends in a tie and a destroyed tennis court. In the second half, Ichiko tries her hand at cooking, but fails miserably each time. Her experimentation is interrupted when Momiji appears with her rival and colleague Kuroyuri, a fellow god of misfortune. Their pincer attack fails, and when they hold a cooking duel with Kuroyuri as the judge, Ichiko’s attempt meat and potato stew sends her into a vomiting fit and she books it back to base, defeated.
We must warn you: if you can’t stand episodes in which almost everyone is yelling at or near the top of their lungs pretty much constantly, you probably won’t enjoy this episode. Having watched 71+ episodes of Sket Dance, we consider ourselves inoculated against high-decibel hijinx. This is an episode of fierce competition between Ichiko and Momiji, in which mundane activities like tennis and cooking are ratcheted up to absurd levels of aggression.
A lesser series would have spend the whole 20 minutes and change on one challenge, but this one made the correct choice of presenting at least two, while introducing new characters in each segment who will likely show up in the final episodes…though we hope those episodes don’t feature a lot of them because they’re not very interesting. Adenokouji Shion is your standard big-haired bishie, while Kuroyuri is a yuri cliche…though her monocle is kind of cool, she poses no threat to Ichiko. Other notable guests included Ichiko’s exploding cake and wailing stew. Of course she sucks at cooking.
Rating: 5 (Average)
Rindou reaches out to Ichiko in friendship, but Ichiko repeatedly rebukes her. Ichiko’s main detractor Tange Akane takes advantage of Ichiko’s distraction to lure her into an ambush using a gang of guys. Rindou saves Ichiko from the gang, but the abandoned school building they’re all in starts to collapse. Safe outside, Ichiko weighs saving Rindou, afraid she’ll still want friendship. Because Ichiko had a traumatic experience with her last friend Kurumi, she doesn’t feel she can trust anyone. Momiji prods her into action, and afterwards, Rindou promises she’ll never use or betray her the was Kurumi did.
Beneath her brash, beautiful, arrogant veneer, Sakura Ichiko is a unsociable misanthrope who is afraid of getting close to anyone. The unbridled friendliness of Rindou puts her off; it doesn’t even occur to her that she could have a real friendship with her or anyone else. Why? Because she was used and betrayed by a so-called friend in the past (this friend is guest-voiced by Rie Kugimiya in full Two-Faced Bitch Mode). Rather than take a chance at making friends again and getting hurt again, Ichiko keeps to herself, and dedicates each day to projecting pride, confidence, and cynicism for her fellow man.
But both Momiji and Rindou have seen other sides of Ichiko. The tender side; the vulnerable side; the side who stood up to Rindou’s father, not just – as she insisted – because he pissed her off, but for Rindou’s sake. Not only does Rindou repay her by risking her life to save hers, she outright refuse’s Ichiko’s rejection of her, wearing her down with her assurances she’ll never hurt Ichiko. Whether Ichiko likes it or not, she has herself a friend. She’ll survive.
Rating: 6 (Good)
Ichiko crosses paths with the tomboyish karate expert Rindou Ranmaru, framing her for shoplifting after being framed herself. The next day, Ranmaru transfers to her class and challenges her to a duel, which Ichiko wins thanks to her luck. After the duel Keita praises Ranmaru, and she gets a crush on him. Ichiko gives her a makeover to make her more girlish, but when she goes home in that state, she’s hit by her father. Ichiko starts a fight with her father, but Ranmaru stops it, not wanting her dad hurt. Her dad lightens up, but Ranmaru is more comfortable dressing as she normally does anyway.
The magenta-haired Rindou Ranmaru recieves a fitting introduction this week, and she’s not what we expected. Well, not completely. First of all, we assumed she was a supernatural being like Momiji or Momou, but she’s just a human (albeit one who can somehow survive a 13-story fall onto a car). Her outfit is…there’s no other word for it…well, actually, there are a lot of words, but we’ll go with straight-up ridiculous. And a little distracting. Isn’t there a dress code? Also, the fourth wall-breaking about the main character’s class getting so many transfers is a bit weak. Everyone changing character design at will was pretty funny though.
What we liked was how this “hot-blooded dumbass born in the wrong era” (to paraphrase Ichiko) provides a fresh foil and rival for Ichiko, as well as a mortal person who could actually become one of her friends, even if that friendship is tense and unspoken. Ichiko plans to get back at Ranmaru by exploiting her infatuation with Keita, but she forgets about it once she sees how happy and excited Ranmaru is to have a new look (which is adorable). Ichiko also stands up for Ranmaru against her strict, rigid ass of a father, and even if her defense proves unnecessary, it’s appreciated by both Ranmaru and her dad. But geez…that friggin’ outfit of hers…what a hot mess.
Rating: 6 (Good)
Thanks to a bear, Michiko escapes and makes it to the bus stop where Keita’s siblings are fretting. After a crying session, she goes out to look for him, enlisting the help of Momou, and finds him passed out and bleeding. Momiji extracts fortune from her – enough to heal Keita, who wakes up in the morning with Michiko sleeping on him. The family goes home, and the next night, Michiko escapes. Momou and Bobby fetch the Aging Box for her, and she changes back to Ichiko. She’s then down in the dumps for several days, confounding Momiji & Co., until she finally gathers the courage to return Keita’s hanky, and returns to normal.
Safely behind her shield of little-kidhood, Ichiko enjoys being a part of the family she derided and insulted as a high schooler as a result of her inexperience dealing with anyone less fortunate than her (which is pretty much everyone). When Keita’s accident separates him from them, she shares in that drama and is compelled to act to preserve their family. She may outwardly say she’s doing it so she isn’t saddled with that bunch of troublesome kids, but she’s really doing it out of momentary, genuine compassion. Her body may have shrunk, but her heart grew. Then she’s back to normal, and suffers ‘family withdrawal’, of a kind.
After all that time surrounded by love and noise, she looks lonely and lost – nothing the celestial squatters do will faze her. It’s a load that’s lifted off her mind once she returns the hanky Keita gave her as Michiko. She not only feared that he’d realize the little kid was her (he didn’t, he’s not the sharpest tack), but was probably also worried about getting drawn back into that house – even though in her regular form, they’re not really big fans of her. So, lesson learned for Ichiko: some people have nothing she has, but everything she doesn’t – but it shouldn’t be – and isn’t – a simple case of ‘n’er the twain shall meet’.
Rating: 6 (Good)
Momiji acquires an “aging box” from the turtle god Urashima Taro, but when she tricks Ichiko into opening it, it has the reverse effect and turns her into a small child. Young Ichiko manages to escape and finds refuge with the Tsuwabaki family, who she had not-to-friendly dealings with before. Not knowing who she is, they treat her like a proper guest and even invite her to a picnic. But Momiji grabs her when she strays away from the family. Keita goes looking for her, finds her shoe, and falls into a deep pit.
In the middle of watching this episode we forgot it was merely part one of two, so we were a bit surprised when the episode simply ended with Keita falling down a well. Even if we had remembered this was a two-parter, we aren’t quite sure if it needed to be. Once Ichiko escapes from Momiji’s clutches, the episode slows to a grinding halt. Granted this is so she can spend more quality time with the Tsuwabakis, but we still feel like this story could have been wrapped up a bit quicker. Not to mention, a character turning into a kid has been done, and done better.
Another possible reason two stretch this story out across two parts is to underline that this is the closest Momiji the Binbougami has come to actually defeating Ichiko. With a tiny, relatively weak body (but apparently the same size bust), Ichiko is simply no match for Momiji. Also, Momiji isn’t the most efficient when it comes to carrying out her mission, bitching so much she lets Ichiko get away. But here is a case of Ichiko crossing paths with an impoverished family unit and the only emotion she can report is…irritation. Could she actually just be longing for a family she never had?
Rating: 5 (Average)
Car Cameos: There’s a black sedan and a bus, but they’re unfortunately of unknown make and model.
Momiji avails herself of the aid of her masochistic dog god pal Inugami Momou. She stimulates him into the form of a tiny, cute puppy for Ichiko to pick up. Once inside her apartment, Momou is to use a gadget to drain Ichiko of her fortune. However, when he sees the good, gentle, sensitive side of her, he can’t bring himself to do it, especially after he activates another gadget that causes her treasured box of Suwano’s letters ends up in a landfill and she searches through the night. While washing Momou in the bath, he returns to human form, and he sees the side Momiji was talking about.
This week Momiji gets some reinforcements, and we get a fresh perspective on her, not from another misfortune god, but from a dog god. We didn’t think much of Momou, especially when Momiji broke out the S&M routine. But his inner dialogue when observing Ichiko reveals a clearer head than Momiji, who is extremely jealous of her fortune, no matter what she says. He also realizes one night that Ichiko’s fortune is an almost Perfect Defense, even helping her foil his plans in her sleep.
The punishment Momou receives never ascends to Ren Höek-esque lyricism, but this series definitely knows how to toss its characters around. The worst he gets is when he reverts to human form – in her naked arms. She rips the bathtub off the floor and beats him with it, which is just plain nuts. Still, his time with her wasn’t in vain: he learned that Momiji wasn’t telling the whole story, only half of it. Ichiko most definitely is a short-tempered, violent brute, but when it comes to family (Suwano), she’s a big(-boobed) ol’ softie.
Rating: 6 (Good)
P.S. The priest/exorcist guy just kinda took up space this week…
Taking stock of everything she has, Ichiko thinks about what’s next, and decides it’s a boyfriend. She decides to start with the guy sitting next to her in class, Keita who loses his student card. She goes to his house to return it, and he invites her in. Ichiko learns he’s poor and living hand to mouth with lots of siblings to care for. After arguing they’d be better off with money and offering them some, Keita asks her to leave. The next day she bribes his brother Ryuu with a rare card, but Ryuu drops in the sewer, then gets trapped down there. With help from Momiji and her own fortune, Ichiko saves Ryuu, and Keita forgives her past offenses.
In case there was any doubt, a rich girl like Ichiko who was essentially raised alone by her butler is a bit…ahem…lacking in the social graces, as this episode aptly illustrates. Especially when it comes to the poors…by the time she realizes what she’s gotten herself into, it’s too late to back out and she must improvise, and she does, badly, by grossly oversimplifying the plight of Keita and his family, insisting they’d be happier if they had more money, then tossing a fat wad of ¥10,000 ($127.25 US) bills on the ground. Her ‘unique’ gesture of charity is met with disgust, and rightly so. You don’t shame a breadwinner in front of the wee ones.
Is Keita a bit too rigid and proud when it comes to any kind of alms? Perhaps, but that’s hardly uncommon: humans on the whole don’t like having to depend on handouts. Keita believes he only deserves to exist if he stands on his own two feet. That’s where the character for “person” (人) comes in. Sakura initially imagines it as one person being propped up by others (which is actually how she lives her life), but she then learns it’s actually two people supporting each other. People are defined by those around them; and the more Sakura interacts with others, particularly those less fortunate than her – the larger her shriveled heart will grow.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Momiji enrolls in Sakura’s school and harasses her all day. On the way home, Sakura is grabbed by a starving travelling monk, but ignores his pleas. Back at her home, Momiji is squatting in her closet, and the monk followed her home; her positive energy and Momiji’s negative energy drew him there. He equips her with “robes” and a weapon called the Souin Shourai, and she picks a fight with Momiji, who is surprised to learn Sakura can manifest her fortune into summoned animal allies. Sakura wins the fight and kicks Momiji out, but is left with the priest, her animals, and Momiji’s lazy samurai allies occupying her place.
We’re still impressed with the sheer volume of comedic material this series has dished out in its first two weeks, and were even able to discern some of the anime it spoofs in mere blinks of the eye. This week lost none of the manic energy and verve of the first episode, and it’s a pleasure to listen to Hanazawa Kawa firing with both barrels. Momiji’s Uchiyam Yumi is no slouch; with not one but dozens of different voices. The new kid on the block, Bobby the priest, is a welcome and hilarious addition to the cast, coming on too strong for Sakura’s taste, but actually aiding her in her battle against misfortune incarnate, Momiji. We especially like how he kind of fades into the background during the climactic battle…as if the series sensed that he’s better in moderation.
This episode eschews drama with more action and parody, and it isn’t boring even for a moment. The series points out in the omake that they’re only arround for one cour, so they’re clearly making the most of what they’ve got. Sakura and Momiji truly are two sides of the same coin. You’d think the god has an advantage here, but Sakura proves she won’t let her take her misfortune without a fight. Momiji’s direct approach has only made Sakura bolder and more cognizant of her powers. Momiji faces an uphill battle.
Rating: 6 (Good)
The rich, beautiful, brilliant and arrogant Sakura Ichiko is visited upon by a “god of misfortune” named Momiji whom she calls a “binbougami”. Sakura is throwing off the balance of fortune, and drains the fortune out of those around her, and Momiji is there to “correct the imbalance.” Sakura quickly rejects her, but when her butler and only family, Suwano has a heart attack, she consents to having fortune “drawn” from her body by Momiji, making her into a normal person. However, Sakura steals the extracted vial of fortune and smashes it, spreading good fortune throughout the immediate radius and helping Suwano recover. Sakura relieves him of his duties, and a week later he is engaged. Momiji moves in with Sakura, whose fortune levels remain too high.
Sakura is a perfect girl in virtually everything but humility and modesty. She knows she’s got it going on and looks down on those less fortunate; she’s even immune to the abuse some of her envious, bitter classmates dish out. But she’s also immune to feeling any kind of closeness to anyone, even the legions at school who worship the ground she walks on and are at her beck and call. All her good fortune has left her isolated and alone. All she has is Suwano, the fiercely loyal butler who she’s always taken for granted. For us, this is the underlying drama that bolsters this otherwise madcap comedic series. So even if Momiji is there to do one job – relieve Sakura of her excessive fortune – there’s the possibility of her becoming that first friend…whether they’d admit they’re friends or not.
That being said, as a madcap comedy – with its dizzying pace and variety of jokes, gags, cultural references, swearing matches, and music by Final Fantasy veteran Hamauzu Masashi – this is very good stuff and very encouraging if it maintains this quality. Kana Hanazawa has a long leash to unload on her new (and to her, very aggravating) roommate Momiji. Both are exceedingly fun to watch, especially when locked in verbal or physical combat, which is almost all the time. We liked the decision to focus on the two of them, allowing us to learn a lot right out of the gate. As it seems Sakura is the Spindletop of fortune, Momiji has her work cut out for her, especially since Sakura has no intention of letting Momiji succeed in ruining her future.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Car Cameo: Suwano chaffeurs Sakura around in a somewhat stylized but still recognizable Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow.